Sunday 18 December 2016

Pleasant wonder is no loss of time

I'm not generally very good with change.
I like what I know, I like routine, I like the safety.
 But sometimes, a big old shake up is just the thing. 

 Before I moved, Nina asked both Simon and I whether we would be sad or lonely on the days when she, Claudia and Owen were at the other parent's house. We both replied with an amused but emphatic no!

I can't vouch for Simon, but for me, those days have a strangely unreal quality to them. Time opens up in front of me, space to be filled in any manner of my choosing. Of course work commitments continue, and all the usual chores still require attention, but there have been times when I have a day off, no particular plans, and I wake up without an alarm and lie for a minute in the dark, excited by the prospect of suiting myself, from start to finish of the day. I can't quite find the words to articulate how it feels - it's liberating, but slightly overwhelming, so much choice almost makes me anxious until I remind myself I don't have to cram a million things in, I'll have days like this on a regular basis now. 

It's... a bit trippy. 

1970s dress and cardigan - charity shopped 

Something I did on one such day was go for a walk in our local park and visit Meersbrook Hall, an 18th Century Grade II listed house. Since the 1950s, the hall has been home to council offices, but the Parks and Countryside department has now relocated and this year, the keys to the building were handed over to the Friends of Meersbrook Hall and local charity Heeley Development Trust. They plan to refurbish the house and develop it as a thriving community resource, remaining in public ownership. 

It was the first time I have ever set foot inside the Hall.

Nina's year group at school had an art exhibition on display, inspired by the work of John Ruskin.

Nina's picture. 

Walking home in the dimming light of late afternoon, the low cloud looked like mountains in the distance.
But as much as I am relishing some solitude, I am making the most of my social opportunities too...

well, it would have been rude to ignore this talented young man, don't you think?

My shop's Christmas do was a night out at a burlesque show. 

My feathers weren't quite as impressive - love those fans!

1950s cocktail dress - gift from Wayne at Mooch
Feather fascinator, bracelet and 1950s crystal necklace - charity shopped

With Heather, Mel and Jo - the most glamorous charity shop team ever!

And while we're on the subject of leggy birds in feathers - look at this beauty, spotted on the River Sheaf the other day. Watching him take off was a joy. 

Ruskin had it right - pleasant wonder is no loss of time.

Linking - for the first time in ages - to Patti's Visible Monday.


Sunday 4 December 2016


Anyone there?
Look, it's me.

I've moved house, and have braved my first photo session in my new garden.
The neighbours will soon get used to the curious sight of me flouncing about and posing in ridiculous frocks...

1970s Betty Barclay dress - Mooch vintage shop
Vintage Bally boots and 1960s pendant - my shop 

So what can I tell you about life at the moment?

It's good.
The period leading up to the move was difficult. I am not usually much of a crier, and have been known to despise those who weep at the drop of a hat (their hat, anyone's hat). But good lord, I have cried more than I thought was humanly possible in the last 6 months or so. There were points when emotional distress manifested itself so physically, I was simply floored by it. 
When I cleared out the Cupboard of Doom, that repository of a lifetime's clutter and so many memories, I had to keep stopping to sob and try and catch my breath. The jacket, full price and extravagant at the time, to which I treated myself after a relationship break-up; the Chinese parasol I had up in my room all through my university years and beyond, yellowed with cigarette smoke and a little ragged around the edges; the rug made by my dad as therapy when he recovered from a bout of rheumatic fever in his youth; the dress I bought when I visited my dearest friend Deborah in America 20 years ago.
Three tiny sleepsuits, the first items worn by Claudia, Owen and Nina when they were born.  

The Sex Shoes. 
Oh don't ask...
Dismantling a life; it's really fucking hard.
I packed it all away, and moved.
And now I am in the process of remaking.

I know things are only things... But they hold associations and memories, and I like to have them around me, displayed and cherished. 

 Your comments on my last post also triggered many tears. You can't know how much your kindness, concern and encouragement meant to me, thank you very, very much. 
The support of my friends has been both overwhelming and essential during this time of great change.
 So I am settling into a new rhythm. And finding I like it. 

The house is lovely, I feel comfortable, and the kids like it too.

I'm hoping that I'll get myself back into a blogging routine again, now that the sturm und drang of the last few months have abated. I've missed it, missed all of you.

And thanks again for your patience and support. You're fab!


Tuesday 20 September 2016

Down to believing

Looking back, my last post seems elegiac. Unintentionally so, at the time, but there is an air of weary melancholy about it all the same, a sense of mourning and loss. 

I didn't know - then - that I would be absent for so long. Or that when I returned, life would have changed so much.

 I've composed this post repeatedly in my head. I didn't know how to write it, and still don't. So I'll try and keep it simple and brief.

Simon and I are in the process of separating. I'm moving out, the kids will live between both homes, and we'll do our very best to share their care and upbringing in a loving and decent fashion. (They seem to be doing OK, so far.)

On holiday in Crete in May

I confess to feeling daunted. 
I'm starting again, alone, from scratch, at 52. 

On my birthday in June.

The To Do list runs over several pages and keeps getting longer.
 The logistics of managing the schedules and possessions of three kids across two households will be a challenge.
 My impending poverty is alarming. Church mice will be offering to buy my drinks.

It's a little overwhelming. 

Love - that elusive joker - seems a world away.


I guess it comes down to believing.

Believing in the support of good friends, and the fact that I know that money doesn't buy what is truly worth having.

Believing in resilience, resourcefulness, and the possibility of new beginnings.

In my own judgement of my worth, and trusting the truth in my misshapen heart, scratches, scars and all.  

So I guess it comes down to believing, and whether we do or we don't.

And I think, I hope, that I do.


Sunday 1 May 2016

She's not there

Day Off + Things To Do (x many) = Fuck It.

I went to the General Cemetery instead.

Bright sunshine...

blue skies...

acid greens...

and plenty of sun flare.

It's been a while since I visited, but this place always calls me back.

Trying to explain it to someone who has never been and doesn't share the Victorian Graveyard Love makes me sound like a freak. So be it. 

It felt a little different; much of the overgrowth has been cut back and some trees have been cropped.

Necessary, I know, as part of the ongoing renovation work, but part of me regrets the loss of the wilderness...

although there is enough left to enjoy. 

I went to enjoy the silence, only to find myself sharing the space on this occasion with more than the occasional dog walker. 

A gaggle of school girls with their teacher working on an art project; a chatty man with his over-friendly if delightful dog; a couple of young women sharing a fag on a bench as they rehashed the events of the night before and planned their future festival tent arrangements; and two drunk-ish men with a supply of cans. 

No matter - they all passed through and left me to myself. 

Having posted photos of the cemetery before ( here, here and here), I was interested to see if I could see something different this time.

There are some gravestones I hadn't spotted before. 

Ubique is the motto of the Royal Artillery Regiment; Army Pensioner George Myers had been at the battles of Sebastopol and Inkerman during the Crimean War.

The shield-shaped headstone is for Annie Paine, Adjutant of the Salvation Army, promoted to glory April 25th 1914. Interestingly, there is a second inscription underneath for Helen, beloved wife of Major Jonah Evans, who died a year after Annie. Sisters? Secret lesbian lovers? I'm hoping for the latter.

And if I have already photographed most of the graveyard, I can always tinker with effects.

I know how she feels; I feel like shaking my fist at that non-existent God too.

I had a brief scan over my recent blog posts and was struck by how dull they have been; a dirge of repeat complaints about how busy I am, and tired apologies for poor blogging form. I'm boring myself, never mind you.

1960-70s lurex maxi skirt - Ebay
1970s velvet jacket - Leicester vintage shop
Sunglasses - vintage market
Ankle boots - charity shopped

I need to just stop. I don't intend to stop blogging, it's too precious to me - the friends, the conversations, the connections, the inspiration and ideas, I need them all. And I need this outlet for whatever nonsense is circling around my brain too.

But I am keenly aware of my lack of presence in the blogging world, and I feel guilty, frustrated and disappointed.

I'm going to wait until I can do this properly again.

Please don't bother trying to find her - she's not there. 

Hopefully it won't be too long.
And I hope you'll wait for me.